Making robots that learn is still a hard problem, so it’s no surprise that most robot learning research is focused on algorithmic challenges. As we’re considering how to build robot learners though, we must keep in mind what people will actually think about them. After all, if a learning robot makes its owners think that it’s broken, we may have to redesign the learner entirely.

The setting for our videos. Each showed yours truly asking the robot to find out what was in one of the boxes.

In our work for HRI, we present a large scale online video study that probes people’s thoughts on a robot that decides to learn on its own. The paper gives a full breakdown of the results, and I’ll be presenting it at HRI in Cambridge next month. As one of the first studies tackling perceptions of intrinsically motivated robots, we think it’ll be of interest both to people working on robot learning methods and to those looking to understand how intelligent robots are perceived by users.

Update April 7th, 2020: HRI 2020 was cancelled, but we all made videos!